Hello, my name is Jennifer and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I struggle with getting things done because I’m hung up on doing them right. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to do things right. However, when you’ve put off doing things just because you can’t do them perfectly, you’ve got a problem on your hands.
Procrastination is a key indicator that you struggle with perfectionism. In fact, it can cause you to waste time by doing unnecessary research, planning, and organizing in an effort to avoid a task you’re afraid you can’t do perfectly.
I had a major breakthrough this week in regards to how I work on The Planning Woman platform. I’ve been blogging for years and have been on a quest to figure out the perfect work schedule and plan that will help me grow my business. In that quest, I’ve put off doing what I know to do on a consistent basis because #1 I was afraid I wasn’t going to do it perfectly and #2 I wasn’t sure I was really focusing on the right things.
This week I decided all of that needed to change. If I’m ever going to help overwhelmed women in a real, life-changing way, then I’ve got to get to work.
In planning for this week, I allotted three hours to plan for the third quarter with The Planning Woman. My goal was to plan out all of my podcast episodes, figure out what I needed to do on social media, know what I wanted to do for continuing education that would help me grow my platform, and figure out what administrative tasks that needed to be done.
I already had a list going. So I created a separate index card for each task or project. Then I assigned them to a function of my business and sorted them by function. Then I decided which tasks and projects I could work on this month, which ones I would work on in August, and which ones I would work on in September. Do you know this only took me about 30-45 minutes?
I had been putting this planning time off because I didn’t really know where to begin. And I thought it would take a long time to do. Well, I proved myself wrong. So now I have two extra hours this week to devote to other work instead of planning.
I think what made the difference for me this time is that I chose to do it imperfectly. However just because I was ok with it being an imperfect process, I still did it with excellence.
I am trying to adopt a mindset of excellence over perfection because I know that is the only way I’m going to get things done.
What is the difference between excellence and perfectionism?
The dictionary defines excellence as “to surpass”. It is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good at something. Now, when we look at excellence this way, it’s easy to think it’s something that is very hard to achieve. I look at it more as pursuing excellence and doing things to the best of our ability instead of always trying to be the very best. Because, ironically, if you think you have to be the very best in everything, then perfectionism will take over and you’ll never get anywhere.
Perfection is defined as something that is done entirely without flaws, defects, or shortcomings. That means no one can find any fault in what you’ve done.
How to Adopt the Mindset of Excellence Over Perfectionism
Determine your motivation
Think about why you want to do something and what you hope to achieve by doing it.
It could be something as simple as cleaning your home. Is your why because your home is dirty and needs to be cleaned? Or does it go deeper in that you want to care for your home well? It could be that someone in your family would be upset if you don’t clean your home.
Think about your motivation and if what’s motivating you is something that’s actually holding you back, consider finding another motivation.
Choose progress over perfection
Because my perfectionist tendencies have caused me to develop the habit of procrastination in so many areas of my life, I am learning to celebrate when I make progress. When I can look back and see how I have progressed in an area of my life, I am more motivated to keep moving forward. And I’m less likely to give in to procrastination because I know my efforts will produce progress even if it’s small progress.
So when you think you’re not really getting anywhere, look back to where you started. Celebrate how far you’ve already come. When you’re hung up on moving forward, just remember all you need to do is take one step at a time to see progress.
Done is better than perfect
This goes along with embracing progress over perfection. Sometimes we just need to get things done. Even if we can’t do them perfectly.
Let’s go back to my earlier example of planning for the 3rd quarter for The Planning Woman platform. I could have played around with all the task and project index cards I had written out until I came up with the perfect time to get them all done. Instead, I chose to go with my gut instinct based on what I already have scheduled for the next three months. I quickly pulled together what I thought I could do in each month and came up with a plan.
Getting those tasks and projects assigned to a month was a relief. Did I do it perfectly? No. Will some adjustments need to be made as time goes by? Most definitely. Will I get everything done on my plan? Probably not. However, I at least have a plan in place I can work from and make changes as needed.
And going back to progress over perfection, I’ll at least see some progress. In fact, now that I have a solid plan, I’ll probably see more progress than I would have if I had no plan at all.
Recognize that good enough is good enough
Sometimes we just need to do things good enough.
I first heard about this idea of good enough from blogger Andrea Dekker. She is probably one of the most productive people I know, yet she does not give in to the myth that everything must be done perfectly.
Look at failures as opportunities for growth
No one likes to fail at anything. In fact, fear of failure is probably one of the top reasons I tend to procrastinate doing something.
However, I’ve tried to find the lesson in the failure I can take with me the next time I try to attempt it.
I don’t like to say fail. That’s really negative. Not everything we do that doesn’t turn out as we expected is necessarily a failure. It usually means we just need to improve a skill or gain a little more knowledge.
So the next time something doesn’t work out like you thought it should look for the lesson you can learn and grow from for the next time.